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Uwe Richter, managing director of the Euro Baltic Fish Processing Company in Sassnit, Germany, said hundreds of fishermen from his own country risked going out of business if the UK stuck to its strict demands on access to its rich waters. He said fishermen in the UK “understand” that EU member states will not buy anything they land unless their own boats can continue to reap the same benefits they enjoyed before Brexit.
Mr Richter’s comments will no doubt anger Brexiteers who welcomed Michel Barnier’s decision to allow the UK to break from the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as the latest round of trade talks kicked off in London this week.
In an interview with Germany daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung, Mr Richter laid out his serious concerns for his country’s fishing industry.
The 58-year-old serves as the chairman of the German Deep Sea Fisheries Association.
More than 70 percent of British fish exports currently go to the EU.
When asked if this could continue after December 31, he said: “We demand that the British only export their fish to the EU if European fishermen continue to have access to British waters.
“I think many British fishermen have now understood that.”
Touching on the ongoing trade negotiations between the UK and Brussels, Mr Richter said he was not holding out much hope for an agreement.
He explained: “After the unsuccessful rounds of negotiations, I’m rather pessimistic.
“A ‘hard Brexit’ without an agreement is becoming more and more likely every day.
“But making a prediction is not possible.
“It’s like looking into a crystal ball.”
On Tuesday the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator arrived at Downing Street for “intensified” Brexit talks with he British counterpart.
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Clad in a mask, Mr Barnier was pictured waving to photographers as he headed for dinner with David Frost.
Fish was on the menu at No.10 as the pair were treated to halibut, chargrilled asparagus, and a terrine of summer fruits.
Fishing rights remain one of the main sticking points in talks which have been dragging on since February.
Referring to Mr Barnier fishing compromise on the CFP announced earlier this week, Mr Richter said he was unsure about how exactly it would play out.
He said: “I don’t know what’s behind it.
“The final compromise cannot be read from this.”
And warning about potential heavy job losses in Germany’s fishing industry if boats are not given free access to British seas, he said: “Several hundred jobs are likely to be lost.
“There are currently seven vessels for deep-sea fishing in Germany that are in use worldwide and employ a total of around 450 men in the shipping companies.
“Four of these ships are currently mainly in British waters.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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